Thomas sends Scarlets out on a high

11th May 2007, 21:28

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A virtuoso second-half performance from fly-half Ceiron Thomas ensured that the Scarlets overpowered Connacht 19-10 in their final Magners League encounter at Stradey Park on Friday.

A virtuoso second-half performance from fly-half Ceiron Thomas ensured that the Scarlets overpowered Connacht 19-10 in their final Magners League encounter at Stradey Park on Friday.

Thomas scored a brace of tries early in the second half as the Welsh side struggled to put away a plucky Irish province.

In a mistake-ridden clash, the home side failed to find the fluency of recent matches, but still had too much firepower for the visitors.

The match marked veteran Davies's final match in professional rugby after an illustrious career spanning three decades.

The 38-year-old received a standing ovation as he led the Scarlets on to the field and was quickly involved in the action as the home side tried to give him a fitting send-off.

However, missing most of their senior internationals, the Heineken Cup semi-finalists lacked their usual pace and invention on a pitch saturated by the heavy rain that had swept across south Wales during the day.

It was pretty dire stuff in front of a half-empty Stradey with mistake littering the opening half.

It was Connacht, who have enjoyed a couple of famous nights in Llanelli, who were first on the scoreboard with a 35-metre penalty from centre Mark McHugh after 20 minutes.

The Scarlets did manage to cross the whitewash after 34 minutes following a bullocking charge from impressive prop Phil John,

But with men to spare out wide wing Matthew Watkins looped a forward pass to number eight Nathan Thomas five yards out and the chance was lost.

It proved a story of the half for the Scarlets - bonus point winners in their last two home matches.

Phil Davies must have issued some sharp words at half-time because his charges then came out firing after the break.

Within two minutes of the restart fly-half Thomas did well to swerve over after the Connacht defence had been stretched out wide.

Then, five minutes later Thomas crossed again courtesy of an opportunist effort from a quickly taken penalty, with the Connacht defence expecting a kick to the corner.

With both sides making wholesale changes the game inevitably lost its pattern in the final quarter.

But with seven minutes remaining centre Gavin Evans claimed the Scarlets third after good work from replacement full-back Daniel Evans, on his regional debut.

Thomas converted from the touchline and then replacement prop Craig Dunlea was sin-binned for a professional foul late on.

Connacht did manage a late try through flanker John Muldoon, converted by McHugh, but it had little effect on the outcome of the match.

The scorers:

For the Scarlets:
Tries: Ceiron Thomas 2, Evans
Cons: Ceiron Thomas 2

For Connacht:
Try: Muldoon
Con: McHugh
Pen: McHugh

Yellow card: Dunlea (78, Scarlets)

Llanelli Scarlets: 15 Barry Davies, 14 Garan Evans, 13 Regan King, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Matthew Watkins, 10 Ceiron Thomas, 9 Liam Davies, 8 Nathan Thomas, 7 James Bater (c), 6 Dafydd Jones, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Adam Jones, 3 John Davies, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Craig Dunlea, 17 Daniel George, 18 Inoke Afeaki, 19 John Mills, 20 Clive Stuart-Smith, 21 Daniel Evans, 22 Paul Mackey.

Connacht: 15 Daniel Riordan, 14 John Hearty, 13 Gavin Duffy, 12 Matt McHugh, 11 Conor McPhillips, 10 Peter Durcan, 9 Chris Keane, 8 Colm Rigney, 7 John Muldoon, 6 David Gannon, 5 Andrew Farley, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ray Hogan, 2 J Fogarty (c), 1 Brett Wilkinson
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, David McGowan, Andrew Browne, Aidan Wynne, Ted Robinson, Darren Yapp

Referee: Andy MacPherson (Scotland)
Touch judges: James Jones (Wales), Greg Morgan (Wales)